The major expansion of Manchester Metrolink is dependent on the introduction of the new signalling and Tram Management System (TMS) which will enable extra trams to
operate across the network more reliably but up until now this has proved to be very problematic which is one of the reasons for the delay in opening new lines. However during the past few days it has been reported on the Skyscraper City forum (http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpost.php?p=94223497&postcount=16895)
that the new signals at Old Trafford depot are now in use which will hopefully be the precursor to TMS being activated across the network.
Firswood Junction is the link between Old Trafford depot and the South Manchester line and up until recently the signals were covered over and out of use with all of the trams allocated here for services on the Altrincham and South Manchester lines leaving in a single batch at the start of service and returning in a single batch at the end of the day. But now that the signals have been uncovered and activated trams are able to leave under signalled control.
Although TMS has been activated at this one location it is not known how long it will be before any further sections are put over to TMS control with Transport for Greater Manchester being rather sensibly tight lipped about it so that they don’t make any
promises they can’t keep. However it can be hoped that this news is the precursor to a major implementation of the new signalling system so that the enlarged Metrolink network can operate to its full ability.
In the meantime it is likely that as more T68s are withdrawn from service their old signalling equipment will continue to be stripped out and used in further M5000s so that they can operate on the current network.